Friday, March 06, 2009

Party planning

Scooter will be 6 in less than a month. Aside from the sappy parenting moments this causes (oh, where has our baby gone?), there is the very real issue of organizing his birthday party.

Trillian and I have already decided on a few of the details.

  • We will invite his entire class. I don’t like the idea of inviting just one gender. Since the class is so overbalanced towards boys, this would mean excluding only 1/3 of his class and still leaving a pretty large group.
  • We will invite 3 additional kids: one girl from last year’s preschool who has always been very kind to him (plus she lives not too far away and her mother is very friendly), one neighbor, and one kid from this past summer’s daycare with whom he has had a few playdates.
  • We will hold the party on the Saturday at the beginning of Spring Break. This is the best day for us for a number of reasons. I also figure it may create a de facto cut in the list so that we’re not actually dealing with 20+ kids.
  • We will have a Phineas and Ferb cake. This was Scooter’s idea. He absolutely loves the show and all the things these characters invent. Plus, to me, it seemed like a socially more appropriate theme than another year of Thomas the Tank Engine. Trillian has located a decently priced source of custom invitations with the cartoon characters, and I’m brainstorming on possible decorations and activities that can be adapted to the theme.

The biggest detail remains. Where are we going to have this blasted party? Last year we lucked out and the day was gorgeous. The 7 or so kids (and another 7 or so adults) we had over spent most of the time playing in our backyard. We had a few special activities set up, but mostly they just played with the excellent array of toys and equipment back there (most left from the previous owners). We could probably manage with 20 back there. If we were a little more organized. If we served snacks and cake picnic-style instead of at tables. If we had a couple more adults to help us (and I can think of at least 3 we could get over to our house easily).

But if it’s cold or raining or muddy? 20 kids inside our house for 2 hours would not be a good idea.

So I’ve spent a lot of time brainstorming and researching and debating (with myself and Trillian) and contemplating budgets. Home party = cheaper + decent favors – (mess and wear on the house). Party somewhere else = significantly higher base price + still need favors – (the mess will be somewhere else).

So far, we can’t come up with a space in town that would provide a party appropriate to Scooter and his interests. There are four options for sports/active parties, but they’re not things he would be interested in on his own. And forcing a kid to play sports he doesn’t like for 90 minutes seems unfair for his birthday party. The local gymnastics school does have party options, but this is the place I pulled him from after one class in favor of the place we all still love. I would consider his gymnastics school, but it’s an hour away, and I fear that it would thin the number of attendees too sharply.

There are some county-run spaces available, but they generally do not have outdoor access (if it’s a nice day) and there are liability and cleaning issues that would jack the price up. I haven’t ruled this out, but am holding off on wading through the bureaucracy until I can rule everything else out.

Mostly that leaves churches. And since we don’t belong to any congregation, it would be hard to rent the space. Not to mention that Trillian and I prefer to avoid houses of worship whenever possible.

One final possibility is the local movie theater. They don’t have a party room and there’s nothing about parties on their website, but they do rent out theaters. Scooter’s party will also be taking place shortly after Monsters vs. Aliens comes out, and he very much wants to see this. Of course, our theater doesn’t always get new movies immediately, so I don’t know if we can get all these starts to align properly.

So I’m open to advice and suggestions. I do already know that we’re crazy for undertaking this in the first place, but that’s what kids are for—making us attempt the obviously insane.

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